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Tense NHS ‘Jack-in-the-box’ campaign plays on health fears to drive GP attendance


By John Glenday, Reporter

March 2, 2022 | 3 min read

The NHS in England is urging people to set aside any concerns they might have for Britain’s pandemic-stretched health service and come forward to their GP for tests ‘if something in your body doesn’t feel right.’


Tense NHS 'Jack-in-the-box' campaign plays on health fears to drive GP attendance

The tense campaign is spearheaded by M&C Saatchi to boost detection of early-stage cancer by likening reticence on the part of individuals willing to present for a check-up to a coiled ‘Jack-in-the-box.’

Highlighting the fact that the majority who present with cancer symptoms are given the all-clear, the campaign seeks to reduce apprehension toward seeking medical advice whenever thoughts of serious illness enter your head.

Encapsulating the disease in the box of the old-fashioned toy, the campaign visualizes one man’s fears by depicting him apprehensively carrying the device everywhere he goes from the moment he wakes up, anticipating a nasty surprise at any moment.

Only by confronting his fears by speaking to his GP can his concerns be put back in their box for good with a cancer all-clear.

Phil Bastable, deputy director, head of campaigns and social media for the NHS, said: “This powerful campaign presents a new and positive message for anyone who is concerned about a bodily change that they think could be cancer. It addresses the fear barrier that stops people coming forward, showing how a visit to the GP often puts an end to any fears – or enables an earlier diagnosis.”

Ben Golik, chief creative officer at M&C Saatchi, added: “‘Jack-in-the-box’ is a poignant metaphor for the health fears we can carry around with us. We crank up the tension and convince ourselves of the worst. But for most, that fear is ungrounded. This is the first campaign to target those very early symptoms – the changes that make us think ‘that’s not normal for me.’ Whether to allay misplaced fears, or to get early treatment if it is cancer, we hope it helps more people come forward sooner.”

‘Jack-in-the-box’ will be carried across TV, VOD, out-of-home (OOH), press and social channels, with media planning and buying by OMD and Wavemaker, and PR by Freuds.

Cancer fears recently pushed Johnson & Johnson toward a total ban on talcum powder sales.

NHS: Jack-In-The-Box by M&C Saatchi


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The National Health Service is the publicly funded national healthcare system for England and one of the four National Health Services for each constituent country...

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